I am currently working as an Assistant Professor since more than a year in Canada after my PhD (graduated last year). In near future, I intend to move to Belgium, I am looking for some insights what to expect in terms of academic job prospects and salary expectations. I am not a Canadian citizen yet but a permanent resident. Also I do not speak Dutch. Any other general advice and guidelines based on experience will be appreciated.

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    How is your French? Half of Belgium is French-speaking. Dec 27, 2023 at 14:32
  • @StephanKolassa, as are parts of Canada and, ummm, Switzerland. ;-)
    – Buffy
    Dec 27, 2023 at 14:57
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    @Buffy: certainly. As are parts of Africa. My comment was in the context of OP considering a move to Belgium but only mentioning their proficiency in Dutch... I wouldn't necessarily expect a permanent resident in Canada to speak French. Dec 27, 2023 at 14:59

1 Answer 1


Belgian univerities are either French speaking or Flemish (Dutch) speaking. Most teaching, in my experience, almost all at bachelor level, and some at masters level will be done in whichever is the native language of the university. Some teaching may occur in English. The university will also generally run in that language, so meetings, emails etc will be in French or Dutch. Notice, I'm saying 'or' not 'both' - a Wallonian (French speaking) university will not use any Dutch and vice versa for the Flemish universities.

In the job adverts I've seen, at Flemish universities, it's standard practice to ask that a candidate can reach C1 level in Dutch within 2-3 years. This is a high level of competancy in a langauge, and it will be extremely hard to reach this level, alongside teaching new courses, getting new research projects up and running etc. If you want to apply for these posts, start learning the language now, so you can get a head start on this requirement. Once you get a position there may be some language learning support provided by your department to help you attain this level.

I don't know if Wallonian universities have similar requirements for French, but I would imagine so.

You should also be aware that general networking at conferences will take place in French/Dutch even if the conference talks are in English. I've been to several Belgian/Dutch/Luxembourgian (Benelux) conferences, and the profs generally cluster chatting in their native languages, while the more international phds/postdocs chat in English.

Finally, you asked about job prospects - generally Belgian students have quite a number of publications at completion of their phd, as they are often required by the university or department to publish (sometimes multiple papers) to get their phd. This can put people who are from countries which tend to write a book form thesis and then extract papers and publish afterwards at a big disadvantage when it comes to job applications and grants especially early in your career.

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